Van Commenee has to apologise, insists Idowu

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The Independent Online

It was five weeks ago today that a public rift first emerged between Charles van Commenee, the head coach of UK Athletics, and Phillips Idowu, the triple jumper who will be defending his World Championship title in Daegu, South Korea, next month and heading to the London Olympics as one of the big hopes for home gold a year from now. Last week Van Commenee claimed: "We have both decided to leave the incident behind us." Yesterday Idowu begged to differ.

"I haven't spoken to Charles since that incident and I've said I won't speak to him until he publicly apologises," the Belgrave Harrier said, speaking to BBC Radio Five Live ahead of his appearance in the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Monte Carlo tonight. "He publicly embarrassed me on TV, so publicly apologise. Until then I don't want nothing to do with him [sic]." Oh dear. It would seem that the rift between two of the leading figures in British athletics remains as wide as on the weekend of the European Team Championships in Stockholm.

It was at the eve-of-competition British team press conference in the Swedish capital that Van Commenee, when questioned in general about a raft of withdrawals from the squad, launched a stinging condemnation of Idowu. "I'm very unhappy with the timing of his decision and the way he communicated it through Twitter," the Dutchman said. "I've told him, 'It's not on'. I expect any team member to represent Britain with a certain responsibility and dignity. Using Twitter to announce that he has changed his mind is simply not acceptable."

Idowu responded the following day by claiming that Van Commenee's assertion that the pair had discussed the matter was "a blatant lie". At the end of the competition in Stockholm Van Commenee pledged to "find a solution" to the dispute. And, speaking last week, he said: "We have both decided to leave the incident behind us. We have a common important event in Daegu next month and then in London next year. That's what we are focusing on and we will leave the rest behind us."

The pity is the lingering spat is threatening to overshadow some great British deeds on the track, with Mo Farah (in the 5,000m) and Dai Greene (in the 400m hurdles) both in shape to challenge British records in Monte Carlo tonight. The meeting also features Usain Bolt in the 100m.

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